These are diary entries, tracking my progress and process making the 12 Westerns in 12 Months project. Every now and then I will be publishing these daily notes that were taken on my phone. They have not been edited at all.
MARCH 1, 2019
Today, I met for a few hours with Don Simonton, writer of the Texas Red book. We talked about a lot of things from William Friedkin to his background to my background and of course the subject of our movie. We argued some about the beginning, how to open the film, but eventually decided to see what would come in the writing.
Yesterday I contacted Tina Fortenberry then missed a call from her today. Maybe she’ll be able to help with connections for the Westerns.
I started watching Apache with Burt Lancaster and Along Came Jones with Gary Cooper. I feel like I want a whole day just to watch some Westerns.
Now I’m in Natchez, worn out. I imagine there will be days next year when I’m so tired I’ll fall down or fall asleep wherever I’m sitting.
MARCH 2, 2019
Today I contacted The Fyzz, a finance company for film that has worked with some of my favorite directors.
MARCH 3, 2019
Today I’m going to hang out with a girl and make her watch a Western. Even when having fun, I need to make progress on the Westerns.
MARCH 4, 2019
I contacted the History Channel.
Today I’m on my way to see Scott about investing. And to meet Beau in Natchez to see what his connect can do for us. It’s another day on the road.
MARCH 6, 2019
Yesterday I contacted Alexander Kane and today I need to find someone the contact.
The investor meeting went super well Monday. He’s in. I just need to write the contract.
In the last couple days there’s been a lot of talk come my way of opportunities for the Westerns, financial and otherwise. I’m a skeptic after years and years of hearing talk with no follow through. We’ll see what happens.
I’m halfway through Comes a Horseman and love it. I purchased Yellowstone today to study that and soon I think I’ll order The Grey Fox to study that as well.
MARCH 7, 2019
Today has been underlined with frustration, personal and professional.
I wrote eight pages of the Texas Red script. I’m waiting to see what Don thinks of them, hoping we won’t go through this script process in conflict of vision.
I am now revising the Deputy’s Wife script based on notes from Mario and I. A few pages in.
Contacted a person who might be an investor but I feel they’ve already been sucked up by some others in the industry, some people who’ve been assholes to me. Time will tell.
MARCH 9, 2019
I think about Jonas Mekas’ point about the lesser works of filmmakers not being pounced on and criticized as they often are… I think of this in my own work, having abandoned the notion of bettering film after film and replacing it with the idea of exploring and trying to do something different. I think of this as I watch Taylor Sheridan’s Yellowstone series.
It’s flawed. It consistently has story issues. It would have been better as a two hour movie but that’s my bias. But Sheridan is almost writing an essay over several films of what the modern Western is… from Sicario to Hell or High Water and Wind River (my favorite) to this series. So who cares if it’s flawed? What Sheridan is doing is worth watching, worth studying, worth discussing at length, and definitely worth a hell of a lot more attention that he’s gotten (even if he’s starting to get a lot).
Director Taylor Sheridan on the set of Wind River
Rewriting Deputy’s Wife is fun. I’m trying to have more fun with the characters and dialog than I did before. It was controlled before. I want it to have more color now. More flavor. Something I want to discuss with Mario is casting this film with a bunch of ethnicities but having no reason behind these choices. Giving it no historical explanation. Example. The deputy is black. His wife is white. Or vice versa. Jonathan is Mexican or Chinese. But doing it in a way that is never addressed by the film. Don’t explain it. Don’t justify it. Because it justifies itself. Why not do this? Why not ?
MARCH 11, 2019
Every day is like a ticking clock on a time bomb… I only have so many days.
Yesterday I contacted Erin. Today, a location in Louisiana. Waiting for a call back. I also contacted an investor on Blood Country to see if they wanted to reinvest.
I’m at page 20 in my revision of Deputy’s Wife. And we received 250 dollars in donations the last day and a half. A nice little roll. Maybe we’re gaining momentum.
MARCH 12, 2019
Today I contacted another western town location in Texas.
Whereas yesterday more than 10 pages flowed with ease for Deputy’s Wife, today I struggled to even write three. I’ll never know why that is.
Last night I finished the shootout scene for the Texas Red story. I feel good about it. We’ll see.
Since the writing wouldn’t flow today, I turned to research for the Natchez Trace reading the first part of the Outlaw Years book. This minor detail was my favorite part: Page 30: “In those days men rose at dawn or earlier and went to bed at dusk: their lives followed the sun”
MARCH 13, 2019
Five more pages written for the Deputy’s Wife revision.
If I had no self control I’d just read about the Natchez Trace all day.
I did contact the Eaves Movie Ranch today where The Kid was filmed. It’s out of our price range most likely but who knows what the future holds.
The Kid was amazing. It is like fuel for my western movie making.
MARCH 15, 2019
Some people wonder why I don’t get excited about the promise of funding. Well, here’s an example of why:
A couple months ago in Arizona I met with a guy who approached me about investing. We went to lunch and he was ecstatic about it, saying he’d put 20 to 30k into one. Maybe more. He was a Midwest guy too, someone who’d made their living in farming, and he assured me that when someone from where he was from said they’d do something, they followed through. He offered helicopter location scouting rides, a four wheel drive vehicle for me to use, and much more. I insisted we focus on the investment first. He even invited me to Christmas with his family where I met many characters.
But when I sent him the contract (the same deal memo I use with all my investors) and followed up about it, he said it was far from okay with him, that it had issues. I asked what the issues were, that I could speak with his lawyer(s) about alterations. We schedule a call for a couple days later. That day… nothing. No answer. No text back. No response. I figured I’d lost him. A couple weeks later I get a random text. No, he’s still interested he says. I ask when can we talk. No response. None. The other day I decide to text one more time as a last ditch effort. I get a call from his number hours later but can’t answer so it goes to voicemail. It’s a woman, his accountant, saying that I should call her on his phone and she’ll help me out. Finally, progress. No. I call her. She asks if I’m some random LLC that’s charging his account. No I’m not. Well, my client can’t help you, she says. End of story. That’s why I don’t get excited.
MARCH 16, 2019
The meeting with Joe today went well. It’s amazing how much can be accomplished just by talking a story out. We should be going to Meridian sometime to see if there’s interest there for the rodeo movie.
MARCH 18, 2019
I finished page 41 in the Deputy’s Wife revision.
Today I contacted an actor I’ve worked with before to see if they might have funding connections.
MARCH 21, 2019
I’ve fallen behind on contacts but can’t let that happen.
Yesterday Don and I went scouting in Franklin County and other spots in Mississippi for the Texas Red story. We saw many things, some useful, and spoke at length. I think filming a good portion of the chase in the homochitto Forest may be a good idea. The rolling hill landscape is great, mixed with the swamps.
I’m determined to finish the script and have a table read with actors before the end of April.
At the same time, I must push hard to finish the Deputy’s Wife script and to really make progress on the Natchez Trace. I think with that one, I may aim for a detailed treatment/outline to start location scouting/casting first and then tinker with the dialog as we go.
My sleeping seems to have already changed. I can stay up later than usual. Perhaps my body can feel it coming.
MARCH 22, 2019
50 pages into The Deputy’s Wife revision.
Officially started the outline for the Natchez Trace today while going through the book Outlaws at Cave in Rock which is much much more technical than the Outlaw Years.
I wonder if Arizona actors will show enthusiasm for our auditions or not. It feels dead there. If not, I’ll cast from elsewhere and be happy to do so until Arizona wakes up.
I have my hands deep in four Western projects right now. Between now and the end of the year, that number will triple.
MARCH 24, 2019
I’m worn out today but chugging along through the night regardless.
Last night for maybe the first time ever, a potential investor approached me at a showing of one of our movies. This could be more funding for the Mississippi Westerns.
MARCH 26, 2019
Today is one of those ones where I wake up worried about funding.
This week is long shot week for contacts. I contacted Ed Harris, Keanu’s company, and plan to contact Zahler, Corman and Troma the next three days.
Jared got back to me with notes after reading Frontier. Really pumps me up to get back to that one and he has some good ideas.
MARCH 27, 2019
I contacted Zahler today both about the western festival I want to put on and the 12.
Last night while thinking of what might make a good “cheap” western to start with in January if I’m struggling to get funding to get things going, I went back to my notes from years back in this phone and discovered all kinds of story ideas I’d forgotten about. One was called Ride Across the Water and I’d actually come up with two completely different plots for this same title. The first was geared towards the Australian investor we had for a bit and the second one I found very interesting now. It may be perfect for Sabine Crossing. I can also see it being a good vehicle to work with Bosarge again.
Scouting at Sabine Crossing, picture by Bill Perkins
MARCH 28, 2019
I didn’t get much done for the Westerns today with this showing of Son of a Gun tonight. Releasing films is so time consuming and often tiring. I think releasing the 12 Westerns in 2021 will be more difficult than making them!
I was supposed to contact Roger Corman today but didn’t get to it. So I’ll contact him and one other tomorrow.
I keep thinking about Ride Across the Water…
MARCH 29, 2019
I contacted Roger Corman and Lloyd Kaufman.
Texas Red is up to 23 pages and Deputy’s Wife is around 68.
MARCH 30, 2019
I finished the revised Deputy’s Wife today. 47 pages to 83 pages. A lot more character. A lot more depth. I don’t want to touch it for a while. Let it sit till we start working with the actors.
I hope Mario and I can raise the money. I need another funded one to show momentum.